PERSONAL: Born in CO; married; children: one son, one stepson.
CAREER: Former teacher in public schools and adult literacy programs in British Columbia; currently teaches 5th grade in Colorado.
AWARDS, HONORS: Willa Award, and International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society designation, both 2005, both for Nothing Here but Stones.
SIDELIGHTS: Nancy Oswald's book Nothing Here but Stones is based on the true story of a group of Russian Jewish immigrants who tried to establish a farming community in the Cotopaxi area of Colorado in 1882. Oswald was inspired to write the story when she discovered that the Cotopaxi settlement had been on land that eventually became her property. Through the eyes of the narrator, eleven-year-old Emma, the author relates the racism these people faced in their native country and the incredible hardships they dealt with in Canada. When the crops fail, Emma's father must work for railroad companies and in coal mines. Emma resents her domineering older sister and is devastated when her baby brother dies. She finds some solace through Mazel, a horse she rescues. Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochman noted that it can be difficult to keep track of Oswald's large cast of characters, but added that the story of Emma's immediate family is "told with spare realism." Gerry Larson, a contributor to School Library Journal, also praised Emma's characterization as "realistic" and added: "This well-paced, vivid account should capture readers' attention."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Nothing Here but Stones, p. 345.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of Nothing Here but Stones, p. 691.
School Library Journal, October, 2004, Gerry Larson, review of Nothing Here but Stones, p. 174.
Colorado Central Online, http://www.cozine.com/ (September 1, 2005), Martha Quillen, review of Nothing Here but Stones.
Nancy Oswald Home Page, http://www.nancyoswald.com (September 1, 2005).